• Kyodo


Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida on Thursday left Japan for France, where he is set to attend “two plus two” talks involving the countries’ foreign and defense ministers in which they are likely to discuss China’s growing assertiveness in the Asia-Pacific region.

After France, Kishida will travel to the Czech Republic to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the resumption of diplomatic relations this year, and then to Ireland for a ceremony to celebrate the 60th year of the establishment of Tokyo’s diplomatic ties with Dublin, also in 2017.

In France on Saturday, he will join Defense Minister Tomomi Inada, French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault and French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian for the two-plus-two meeting, the third of its kind between the countries, to discuss China’s military buildup in the South China Sea and its rising presence in the East China Sea.

“Japan hopes to share with France views regarding the security situation in the Asia-Pacific region and call for the country’s proactive and constructive involvement in the region,” a senior Japanese official said earlier.

In the East China Sea, Japan has tensions with China over the Senkaku Islands, a group of islets administered by Japan but claimed by Beijing and by Taiwan. Chinese vessels have been making regular incursions into Japanese waters near the islets for the past few years.

At their previous talks in Tokyo in March 2015, Japan and France signed an agreement on joint development of defense equipment and also agreed to start talks on an acquisition and cross-servicing agreement that would allow the Self-Defense Forces and the French military to provide supplies and services to each other.

On Monday, Kishida will travel to the Czech Republic for talks with counterpart Lubomir Zaoralek to discuss Japanese investments in the country and the Ukrainian issue, the official said. It will be the first time in 16 years for a Japanese foreign minister to visit the country.

Kishida will visit Dublin on Tuesday to meet his Irish counterpart, Charles Flanagan, becoming the first Japanese foreign minister in 26 years to do so. Japan hopes to agree with Ireland on signing a Japan-European Union free trade agreement at an early date, the official said.

Kishida will return to Japan on Wednesday.

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